On Oct. 6, University President Ron Liebowitz sent out an email to the Brandeis community addressing climate change and the University’s commitment to take steps to lessen its impact. 

Starting in 2016, Brandeis stopped investing in fossil fuels, and in 2018, a set of policies were adopted in regards to these investments. Liebowitz said in the email that this year, “1. Brandeis will extend its policy, first adopted in 2018, of not investing in fossil fuel private limited partnerships; 2. We will deepen our efforts to invest in the expanding green sector; and 3. We will develop a measurement and analysis tool set to measure and disclose the Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions associated with our entire endowment holdings as part of our sustainability goals.”

According to Carbon Trust, “Scope 1 covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources. Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the reporting company.” The University plans to develop a tool that analyzes and measures these emissions to ensure that they are on the right track to meeting their goals. “This project will represent the first step toward the University’s longer-term effort to incorporate the endowment into campus-wide carbon mitigation plans,” including getting the University closer to its goal of achieving carbon neutrality, according to the email. 

Liebowitz continued, “This measurement and analysis tool set is a distinct aspect of our plan that distinguishes us among other institutions of higher education as a leader when it comes to combating climate change. It reflects a serious commitment to look beyond the mere question of whether fossil fuels investments are in our portfolio and engage in the meaningful work of reducing the carbon impact of each aspect of our entire endowment.”

Liebowitz stressed that these plans are not “merely symbolic” and that they “align our vision for a more sustainable future with a prudent, risk-averse investment strategy. It will take time for us to know whether our commitments will make a meaningful impact on our sustainability goals, but we cannot let uncertainty prevent us from taking action now, for the risk of inaction is too great.”

Liebowitz believes that the University’s devotion to addressing climate change reflects Brandeis’ “highest values –– using one’s talents to repair the world –– in word and deed,” he concluded.